Saturday, August 4, 2018

Why MUN Matters: Gaining a Different Perspective

By Megha Thomas 

Megha is a Summer 2018 Youth Intern for the UNA-NCA Global Classrooms DC program. She is a rising junior at Princeton Day School in New Jersey. She co-founded a club called Light-A-Mind, which is dedicated to increasing children’s access to education, and is an active member of her school's Model UN club.

After stumbling through my very first Model UN simulation at Princeton Day School in freshman year, I was convinced that Model UN was not for me. However, the Secretariat decided to give me a shot, and today, I could not be more grateful for that opportunity: the opportunity to learn, speak, and grow as a global citizen. 

Model UN quite literally opened my eyes to a multitude of perspectives that I never knew existed. First off, through Model UN, I have gained an inside perspective to the United Nations and seen General Assembly and Specialized Committees in action. Through moderated and unmoderated caucuses, question-and-answer sessions, and presentations, I have had the opportunity to listen and speak on numerous topics while stepping into a change-maker’s shoes and making changes of my own inside a committee session. 

Since my freshman year, I have attended 5 national and international conferences and have had a completely different experience in every one. Representing different countries have opened my eyes to what other countries around the globe think about real world issues, not just the United States’ stance. Although I may never again use my research on the number of refugees Iceland accepts annually or Algeria’s issues with food security, writing position papers and participating in committee sessions have made me a more educated, global citizen, and I definitely have a variety of fun facts to choose from when conversing on modern-day issues. 

Finally, and probably the most important, I have acquired an external perspective of how one person, or a group of people, can make changes to the world. Learning more about the Sustainable Development Goals and pressing worldwide issues has fueled my desire to brainstorm creative solutions and help those in need. This aspect of Model UN may not happen inside a conference room, but its roots and inspiration lie there. 

While Model UN may come off as a lot of debating, it truly is a team sport. Working together is crucial in Model UN and often turns into the best aspect of any conference. Forming blocs and alliances are often the foundations of friendship for me in any conference, and negotiating and compromising on solutions is the heart of the sport. Ultimately, Model UN has taught me about community, whether that be my PDS MUN team, the delegates in my committees, or our global community. Communities work together. 

The biggest piece of advice I can give to any first-timer in Model UN is to put yourself out there and take risks. It may seem intimidating to speak in front of a hundred people or make a controversial stance on an issue, but these steps help fuel your ideas to be out-of-the-box and original, along with making yourself stand out to other delegates. Truly, taking risks in Model UN ends up being like an experiment and helps you to believe in yourself. 

Model UN has made me stressed while writing clauses and scrambling to turn in a resolution paper on time, but it is also one of the most thrilling experiences for any globally-interested citizen; it’s never too late to start! I am truly grateful for every bloc, friendship, and committee session I have had in Model UN. Model UN has made me confident, a leader, and someone I am proud of.

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